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Went Back To Orange County, Orange County Was Gone
It's a blue riptide, y'all.
Do you like pretty things? Try this pretty thing on for size:
That right there is mama's old stomping grounds, from fresh out of college in 1827 until 12ish or 80 years later, in 2007. That right there is where mama had a political column where she went disco-dancing with folks like ... well, like Dana Rohrabacher, and Mike Carona, "America's Sheriff" who would eventually do all his sheriffing from prison. We got manicures together. He was hott. You know who else was hott? MAMA.
I was there working at a thing lost to time called an "alt-weekly." And everyone the world 'round would smirk that we at OC Weekly were "behind the Orange Curtain." (Our fearless editor-in-chief, who taught me everything NYU hadn't about putting out a paper, has gone on to head the California Policy Center, a grotesquely anti-union shop that puts out Facebook posts showing Russian breadlines and saying that's what universal healthcare will get you. I hope the Koch money is worth it, because I sure don't fucking understand it otherwise.)
Back then, Mike Levin -- who just won Darrell Issa's old seat -- was a cleancut young man trying to shepherd wee Steve Westly to the governorship. "Have you ever met a real-life billionaire?" one of the young men at the meet-and-greet asked my then-small buttercup of a son. "Only maybe half a billion," another demurred. Because that was how Democrats did it in the OC.
Back then, Dana Rohrabacher was literally sliding off his barstool onto the ground at last call.
Back then, Orange County was so deeply Bircherite that when one lonely Democrat -- Loretta Sanchez, who actually wasn't a bad congresswoman before she went insane running for Senate against Kamala Harris -- broke through, beating "B-1" Bob Dornan, he fought the election for years, claiming (you guessed it!) voter fraud, because all the nuns were registered to vote at the same address: their convent. And all the Marines were registered at the same address: their barracks. That old man was a hoot!
But but but! we would always say. Orange County is not so red as you think it is. Sure, people elect Republicans with all of the vote! But the Food Not Bombs anarchists were feeding the homeless every week at the park. And the Catholic Worker folk were housing them -- dozens of them -- in their own house and spilling into the yard. And there was art and music and dancing! So much dancing!
And then we would go to another party in a store, where we ate caviar to help the poor.
Orange County is blue now. All blue. I can't imagine that monolith will stay that way: We won't have Dana Rohrabacher to kick around anymore, for one, and Orange Countians do like them some goddamn tax cuts. But if you had told 25-year-old me that day was coming, I'd have ... well, I'd have said DUH WHAT PART OF WHAT WE HAVE BEEN SAYING DID YOU NOT UNDERSTAND, AND ALSO I BET THE HOT SHERIFF IS GOING TO JAIL.
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